The Consultant to the Secretary ( Dulles ) to the Secretary of State

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Dear Mr. Secretary: With Mr. Rusk and Mr. Allison, I conferred yesterday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff with reference to proceeding to a Japanese peace settlement.

You will recall that in the joint memorandum of yourself and the Secretary of Defense, dated September 7, 1950, which was approved by the President, it was stipulated, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, that there should be no definitive Japanese peace settlement “until after favorable resolution of the present United States military situation in Korea”.

Ever since the Chinese Communist intervention in Korea it has seemed unlikely that there would be any such “favorable resolution” and, in consequence, active negotiations have necessarily been in suspense for about six weeks pending modification of the Presidential directive of September 7th,1 such as you suggested in your letter of December 13, 1950 to Secretary Marshall.

This delay has worked against the long-range interests of the United States in relation to Japan in the sense that:

The Japanese people and their leaders are coming increasingly to feel the danger of throwing in their lot with us in view of the fact [Page 782] that Communist power seems to be closing in upon them, and also upon their normal sources of food supply from French Indo-China, Siam and Burma. Our information points to increasing doubt on the part of the Japanese leaders as to the wisdom of any definitive commital to our cause at the present time unless perhaps under conditions as to military and economic security which it would not be easy for us to fulfill.
The United Kingdom is seeking to gain the initiative and is itself drafting a Japanese peace treaty. This, it seems, is being now considered in London by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers,2 who are also reported to be considering a Pacific Pact. There is, thus, a likelihood that we may soon be confronted with a British Commonwealth program dealing with Japan and related matters. The British Commonwealth members constitute six of the thirteen members of the Far Eastern Commission3 which, in turn, is made up of the nations which we consider to be those primarily concerned with a Japanese settlement. We are not familiar with the precise terms of any British proposals, but we do know that the British policy in relation to the Far East is different in many essential respects from our own and it can be assumed that the British Commonwealth proposals will not adequately take account of what the United States believes to be its vital interests in this area.

In sum, the delay in our pushing the Japanese peace settlement has not worked to our advantage and the conditions which were set out in the memorandum of September 7, 1950 as “vital” and which any treaty “must” take account of, now become matters to be negotiated for and obtained as fully as possible, rather than conditions which in September it seemed that we could obtain unconditionally merely by stipulating them.

Our talk with the Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated that they may desire further delay principally for two reasons:

To preserve our existing authority in Japan until after the Korean affair is liquidated; and
To reinforce Japan with additional United States land forces lest the Soviet might move its own armed forces into Japan either as an “occupying” power under the Surrender Terms or on the theory that the Sino-Soviet Treaty of February, 1950 requires this because of the remilitarization of Japan.

In my opinion neither of these reasons is valid.

As to the first, no possible procedure could change the present legal status in Japan for several months and any change would, in the last [Page 783] analysis, be dependent upon action by the President and the Congress or the Senate which could always be deferred if the situation were then such that delay seemed in the best interests of the United States.

As to the second reason, it is, of course, possible that the Soviet Union plans, under one pretext or another, to invade Japan and anything the United States can do consistently with its other responsibilities to defend against this is, no doubt, desirable. Nothing in the pending negotiations precludes this. It must, however, be assumed that if the Soviet have any early plans for sending armed forces to Japan, these plans have already been made. They will not be improvised merely because a United States Mission now goes to Japan, as has been long contemplated, in order to push forward a Japanese peace settlement.

The Soviet Union already knows that our intentions are (a) to retain American garrisons in Japan and (b) to permit if not encourage Japanese rearmament. The conversations and exchange of notes with the Soviet Union make both of these points perfectly clear and Soviet plans doubtless are already made accordingly. If they have plans to invade, it is possible that those plans might coincide with the prospective mission to Japan, and this would be true whether the Mission goes now or after one or two months. The presence of the Mission would not, however, be the cause of an invasion as a major move of this sort by the Soviet Union, which would risk general war, would be taken by the Politburo with careful preparation many months in advance. The North Korean invasion seems now to have been decided upon at least six months before it occurred. So any early action in relation to Japan would certainly have been decided upon by now and nothing we do within the next few weeks would precipitate or prevent its being carried out.

In my opinion, further delay will substantially increase the risk that it will be impossible to obtain an unreserved Japanese commital, in fact as well as form, to our cause on conditions which we would regard as acceptable. Already the delay is causing disquiet in Japan and a feeling that it may well be that, as Secretary Royal once told the Japanese, we have no firm resolve to try to hold the island chain of which Japan forms part.4 Of course, no one can say in terms of days, when delay will be fatal to our hopes as regards Japan, but I think we are already in the danger area.5

Sincerely yours,

John Foster Dulles
  1. This directive was in the form of a joint memorandum, dated September 7, from the Secretaries of State and Defense to President Truman. It was approved by the latter on September 8 and circulated that day as NSC 60/1. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. vi, p. 1293.
  2. The Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers began in London on January 4 and concluded on January 12.
  3. This Commission was established by, and its functions were set forth in, the Communiqué of the Moscow Conference, issued December 27, 1945, by the representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Text is printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 30, 1945, p. 1027. For the activities of the FEC, see Department of State, The Far Eastern Commission: A Study in International Cooperation, 1945 to 1952 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1953).
  4. For documentation regarding remarks made by (then) Secretary of the Army Kenneth C. Royall at an off-the-record press conference held in Tokyo February 6, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. vii, Part 2, p. 648.
  5. A marginal note on the last page of this letter reads: “Mr. Rusk concurs. L[ucius] D[.] B[attle].” Mr. Battle was a Special Assistant to the Secretary.